Durham solid at Canterbury

Lv County Championship
Michael Di Venuto

Michael Di Venuto was solid at the top of the order with 90 as Durham held sway

Michael Di Venuto kept his side on course to snatch the title with a superb 90 as Durham entered the third day with a first innings lead of 64 in their LV County Championship Division One match with Kent at Canterbury.

With Will Smith chipping in with 81 before he was trapped leg before wicket, Durham are in the driving seat as they finished the day on 289 for six.

Kent had earlier been bowled out for 225 having gained just the one batting point.

Although Kent have gained two crucial bowling points so far, they will have to bowl a lot better if they are to gain maximum bowling points, win the match and give themselves a chance of avoiding relegation to Division Two.

Australian left-hander Di Venuto was in superb form and took advantage of some poor bowling from the Kent attack as both he and Ben Harmison shared an opening wicket partnership of 92.

However, both were fortunate to survive chances given to them by some shoddy Kent fielding.

Firstly, with the score on 30, Harmison was dropped at second slip by Martin van Jaarsveld when on nine and then Di Venuto was missed at mid-on off an attempted drive when on 39.

Di Venuto completed his fifty in the 24th over with a delightful cover drive, but then saw Harmison fall soon after to a breathtaking catch by Darren Stevens.

Harmison, on 26, looked to sweep James Tredwell but somehow got a top edge and Stevens, running back from midwicket dived full length to take the catch.

The introduction of Martin Saggers, who surprisingly was left out of the attack until the 40th over, brought about the dismissal of Di Venuto.

Saggers - in his second over - had Di Venuto caught behind off a loose drive and then he picked up the wicket of skipper Dale Benkenstein (four), who played on attempting a drive.

Meanwhile Smith went to his half-century in the 55th over, but then the recalled Robbie Joseph snapped up the prized wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 20, trapped leg before as the Guyanese batsman looked to force off the back foot.

Just before the close, nightwatchman Mark Davies was clean bowled by Ryan McLaren for a duck, lasting just two balls.

Earlier, Kent resumed the day on 190 for nine with last pair of Tredwell and Saggers at the crease.

Fortunately for the hosts they managed to steer their side past the important 200 and in fact pushed on 225 before the stand was broken.

The pair had shared a last wicket stand of 45 before Callum Thorp dismissed Tredwell for 38 caught behind off an outside edge.

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